Meet Doctor Jens.
She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.
But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.
Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
So no one will ever be able to accuse me of not being completely honest, even with books I got for free to review after this. I feel bad because this is an ARC and so with those I really want to be able to give good to glowing reviews. I do hope the author never sees this review.
But I found this book to be frankly unreadable and I, unfortunately, hated it almost from page one. All of my issues were with the writing itself, which I am really surprised by give that Bear is an award winning author.
First, I’m don’t know why Bear chose to keep the language used in this book exactly the same as it is spoken today – right down to the idioms being used – EXCEPT for two words: day and year are now diar and ans. She makes it a big point that the characters would not be able to understand any people they found on this very old ship because the language has changed so much. However, for the reader the only change is those two incredibly distracting fake words that keep popping up.
Second, the book is endlessly repetitive. It is filled with lines like introducing the whole crew of six people and then a few pages later “There were just six of us – [lists 6 names]. The whole crew. Plus…” Why not only say there are only those people twice and then add a plus on to it and then list others who were also there? “Camphvis responded with the bubbling sound that her species used to indicate derisive laughter – which the senso translated into derisive laughter.” There were also repeated scenes like the MC eating breakfast, going afterwards to talk to someone in another room, an then saying “I went to get [x] for breakfast,” like she did not just have breakfast twenty minutes ago.
The third & forth points I’m going to write about together because they go hand in hand: worldbuilding via info dumps and poor pacing. The main character cannot get through an action as simple as walking from point A of a hallway to point B without info dumping on the reader. For every item of action that happens there is a two+ paragraph of lecture about whatever tangent the MC has been set off on by the action. To give you an idea, its like this: “The MC walked over to the table. This table was made of gloorp wood. [2 paragraphs about the woods on a plant she once wanted to visit, that isn’t even where the wood was from.” These constant interruptions to the story (the bones of which are intriguing and interesting) created an overall pace that felt like nothing was happening. At only the 10% mark I deeply wanted the main character to stop talking at me.
Each of these points may seem like minor nitpicks in and of themselves, but together they create a work that is hard pressed to present a single line that doesn’t contain some kind of issue. All of this led me to the decision of not finishing the book. I got more than pages in, but I could no longer take it. I know some people will say, “well how can you review it then if you don’t know the full story?” And I’ll tell you how: all of these problems created a reading environment where I no longer cared about what happened in the story or to anyone involved. You can write the most brilliant story in the history of words and it still won’t mean anything to the reader who simply does. not. care.